Saturday, September 01, 2007

"They love it in great big gobs" 

Mark Schmitt introduces us to Sen Larry Craig's replacement, Lt Gov Jim Risch. After Katrina, Risch said:

Here in Idaho, we couldn’t understand how people [in Louisiana] could sit around on the kerbs waiting for the federal government to come and do something. We had a dam break in 1976, but we didn’t whine about it. We got out our backhoes and we rebuilt the roads and replanted the fields and got on with our lives. That’s the culture here. Not waiting for the federal government to bring you drinking water. In Idaho there would have been entrepreneurs selling the drinking water.

First off, what kind of greedy monster sells drinking water to dehydrated and dying disaster victims who just lost everything in a flood?

Secondly, Mark Schmitt utterly demolishes Risch's historical comparison of the Katrina aftermath to a burst dam the government built for some whiny millionaire ranchers. Hundreds of millions of tax dollars went to build the dam, and $850 million in reparations went to 15,000 Idahoans who lost property when the dam burst (11 people died). Then, hundreds of millions in tax dollars went to fix all of those federally built irrigation systems for those hardy, self-sufficient Westerners who can't even supply their own water.

Schmitt gets to the heart of the matter.

This, not Larry Craig's awkwardly closeted sexuality, is the hypocrisy that matters. This hypocrisy consists not in a failure to reconcile public and private life, but in two public positions that are in absolute contradiction to one another: The belief that people must make it on their own, with no "whining" and no help from government, coexisting with a staggering, slavish dependence on government - and the federal government, and thus taxpayers of the rest of America, in particular.

In a foreshadowing of Risch's comment about the New Orleans victims, the author Marc Reisner, whose 1986 book Cadillac Desert is the finest account of these Western politics, quotes one of the Teton dam's earlier opponents about the culture of this part of Idaho: they "get burned up when they hear about someone buying a bottle of mouthwash with food stamps. But they love big water projects. They only object to nickle-and-dime welfare. They love it in great big gobs."

That is the absolute truth about so many conservatives, especially the "hardy" rural ones. They relentlessly "farm the government" for billions in aid, and comfort themselves by railing against the "dependency" of poor, urban disaster victims huddled in a drowned city.

Yes, I agree this woman is in rough shape... but she didn't have a fiver, so I couldn't sell her any water. It's just that simple. You see, I'm an entrepreneur, ladies. I'm self-sufficient because I earn my money. And if you're too much of a stupid welftard dependent to bring cash to a catastrophe zone, I don't have any sympathy for you. My water is for paying customers only.

Two years ago, among other gratuitous digs on New Orleans, Senator Craig stated that "A rookie cop on the ground in New Orleans, they pay him or her $17,000 starting pay and then wink and say, 'You'd better make the rest of it on the street.'" Looks like Craig's replacement is cut from the same stupid cloth.

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23 comments DiggIt!


I really wonder just how they can live with themselves--do they not realize the depths of their lies, or do they just not care? Either way, it's appalling.

Guess you also saw Tancredo's latest spew...oh, you did (I scrolled down to take a quick look at your penultimate post). I dunno: I almost hope it's some sort of sickness/mental illness, because the alternative--they just don't care--bodes poorly for the nation's future, if not the nation's present, given that they've held power for a generation...

By Blogger Michael, at 1:13 AM  

correction: your next to penultimate post, at present.

By Blogger Michael, at 1:32 AM  

Day after day, this blog is just staggeringly great. Don't know how you do it, but with all my heart, thanks.

By Anonymous Brooks, at 3:05 AM  

I was stationed in Idaho Falls after the Teton Dam break. Those who had big holdings seemed to be okay, but the little folks? Freakin' screwed.

This disaster came at the hands of the Bureau of Reclamation, not the ACOE, but it is all the same.

Human lives mean nothing as compared to the hunger of American shareholders/government for their returns.

Unless you are part of the machine, you do not matter.

Civics 101 in the 21st Century in Amerika.

By Anonymous GentillyGirl, at 6:21 AM  

Thanks for the good comments, and the kind words from brooks.

By Blogger oyster, at 9:48 AM  

Yeah - why didn't those people in the 9th Ward just get in their F350 Crew Cabs and drive north?

Ah, those self-reliant 'Murricans out there in their big red states. Every Bush voter should be taxed double (and more if they were stupid enough to do it twice) to help pay for all the fucking messes he made.

By Blogger blogenfreude, at 11:18 AM  

Great post and yes - these rich conservatives do definitely believe in getting help from the government -
for them. Government exists to get them more money is their idea, *not* for the common good or anything like that.

By Blogger Rent Party, at 5:45 PM  

I thought "gobbing" went out with the Sex Pistols.

By Anonymous ashley, at 1:35 AM  

Risch, Short Man , Huge EGO. 100% ASS

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:53 PM  

Self sufficient western ranchers don't take nothin' from the Federal govment' except public grazing lands, subsidized water, and tens of thousands in federal funds to run electric power 4 miles down a dirt road. Yep - those folks are truly self sufficient in a way the New Orleans poor could never be.

By Blogger BobbyV, at 5:51 PM  

"I almost hope it's some sort of sickness/mental illness, because the alternative--they just don't care--bodes poorly for the nation's future, if not the nation's present, given that they've held power for a generation..."

Those who are truly mentally ill are the ones who demand government involvement in every aspect of people's lives. "People" like "Michael" need to be involuntarily committed to mental institutions.

"Every Bush voter should be taxed double (and more if they were stupid enough to do it twice) to help pay for all the fucking messes he made."

Somebody needs to torture and kill "blogenfreude".

The author of this blog also needs to be killed.

By Anonymous Freedom Fighter, at 6:11 PM  

go have a look at which states feed off the federal coffers and which ones are contributers: link

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:20 PM  

"First off, what kind of greedy monster sells drinking water to dehydrated and dying disaster victims who just lost everything in a flood?"

A greedy monster who wants to actually get water to thirsty people. Government-heralded solutions- such as price controls- only further exacerbate problems on a systemic scale. Is there ever wonder why shortages only become intensified after criminalizing arbitrage?

Price "gougers" bring a good to market that otherwise wouldn't be there. Try wrapping your horn around that one.

By Blogger Jameson Penn / djconnor, at 7:10 PM  

Freedom Fighter, at 6:11 PM,

Yes, yet another rightwing knuckledragger who likes to threaten people. Shove your head back up GDumbyas ass fucktard.

By Anonymous Kevin Simms, at 7:29 PM  

Its like the rest of the country is going to the mall in a hand basket.
I'm starting to get some of that suck-it-up shit even here in Memphis too. Not often but really folks kind of emotionally scoot away if you know what I mean. Like I need to get over it. Instead I get on the train to NOLA once a month and people there don't even have to know my first name. "Hey, Man! Where'yat?" We may have to forget about the rest of the country if it wants to forget about us. I don't know what that means. I just know that sometimes I feel at home with perfect strangers in the city that care forgot and the presidente left for dead.
I really enjoyed Rising Tide 2. So Bad! Thanks for making me feel so welcome at Buffa's! Sweet.

By Anonymous bourgeois nievete, at 10:18 PM  

Jameson penn-- the remarks under the photo were written for you.

Freedom fighter-- thanks for bringing us your perspective on "true mental illness".

bourgeois nievete-- thanks again for coming to RT. It was a pleasure meeting you and chatting with you. Keep up the good work.

By Blogger oyster, at 11:41 PM  

Jameson Penn is correct in saying that price gouging (or entrepreneurship, depending on how you see it) is going to be the natural market solution to infrastructure-disabling situations. It might not even be gouging if one needed to overcome a lack of good roads or power to bring the supplies to market; higher prices are simply compensation for the extra risk taken and the extra costs assumed.
As other posters have pointed out, however, a market solution to natural disasters is usually suboptimal from a humanitarian perspective. Charging high prices for basic goods to people who have lost most of their wealth and probably don’t have access to whatever they might have left is going to leave some people out of the (market provided drinking water) party. Furthermore, requiring that people in that situation spend a disproportionate amount of their resources on procuring the basics is going to prevent them from concentrating their energy and resources on rebuilding their lives and thus their productive capacity, which ends up hurting everyone else in the country to some extent. Perhaps not a market failure in the strict sense of the term, but something to that effect.
With that said, there are certainly government solutions that won’t disrupt the markets like price controls might – I would advocate, using the substance of this post as an example, not spending billions subsidizing irrigation systems and subsequent rebuilding when said irrigation systems broke for Midwestern farmers (who from my understanding, already have quite a bit of money on their own), and instead using that money to provide the National Guard or other first responder units with more water trucks. From a free-market thinker’s perspective, disaster relief is probably a less galling use of federal funds than irrigation systems for well-to-do farmers. Not that I'm trying to voice a major beef with farmers here, its just that they’re the example most readily at hand; don’t get me wrong, a couple of subsidies here and there are useful, possibly even necessary, to prevent famine, but I think that the current climate of farm subsidies goes a bit above and beyond the call of duty for famine prevention, if you know what I mean.

By Anonymous CDove, at 8:41 AM  

Jameson penn, who do you call when your house is on fire?

By Anonymous mac, at 10:08 AM  

Oyster- I think you're tripping over your own smug responses. I'm not sure what your point is.

CDove- I can't argue with someone who defends me against a troll, :), but I would say that a market solution wouldn't be "suboptimal" if the market was left to fully do its best.

For instance, I refuse to acknowledge the evils of failed/incompetent government intrusions into matters of emergencies without also considering how said actions crowd out good private charity.

By definition, all a market solution does is allocate goods to the optimal consumer. Void of our wasted welfare $s which were coerced out of yours and my pockets, you'd have more money to be spent wisely.

mac- When my house is on fire, I'd be an idiot not to call my tax-funded locality, which like it or not, is the recipient of my hard-earned money. Were it my way, I'd be able to choose who puts out my fire, but alas, here I am. Of course, you could also ask who I call when my child is poorly taught by my local public school.

By Blogger Jameson Penn / djconnor, at 8:57 PM  

I think CDove put it optimally. I'll try not to trip over my smugness if you you do the same with your sacred free market fantasia.

By Blogger oyster, at 7:09 AM  

amazing blog pal, already on my bookmarks! ;)

By Anonymous reyderson, at 8:47 AM  

No doubt, oyster.

Believe it or not, I have a bigger bug up my ass when it comes to subsidies and other forms of corporate welfare (yes you, Archer Daniels Midland!).

To be honest, I'm pleased enough you're devoting your blog to the NOLA recovery, which for me, is a blatant example of why we can't blindly trust the government with our livelihood.

Do forgive me if you were under the impression I'm merely a digg-drawn troll hoping to reinvigorate the corrupt GOP-masses. I'm far from it. In fact, few in the GOP party would have anything to do with my (yes) free market enthusiasm, which gets in the way of their world-dominating motivations, but that's a rant for another forum.

Don't get me wrong- I enjoy the blog and will continue reading it beyond checking up to see if anyone else needs blasting in this thread. You've got yourself some good, contentious content.

In this world of excess information, consider that a compliment.

Also, thanks for the tip. That's something to be shared.

By Blogger Jameson Penn / djconnor, at 6:39 PM  

The free market couldn't have addressed the immediate Katrina crisis because there was no property-rights regime in place. ATMs were down and banks were closed, so people couldn't exercise their legal right to make claims on the banks. People who lived in Algiers couldn't get cash or barterable goods from their homes because of criminals from JP turning them away from their homes at gunpoint.

I think the main issue with Risch's comment is his belief that an entrepreneur going in with water would be a virtue. What kind of person looks at mass human suffering and thinks "How can I make a buck off this?" A moral person thinks "How can I help?".

And even someone who wants to profit from a situation like the Convention Center has no incentive to do so because too many people are willing to help for free.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:05 AM